Sunday 4 December 2016

Meet Vice President Mike Pence: Five things we know about Donald Trump's right hand man

Published 14/11/2016 | 11:13

Mr Trump with vice-president-elect Mike Pence. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Mr Trump with vice-president-elect Mike Pence. REUTERS/Mike Segar

As the head of President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team and with a promise from Trump of huge influence over policy, Mike Pence may be one of the most powerful Vice Presidents in history come January 2017.

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And if Donald Trump dies or resigns, Pence will be the one to take over.

So what do we know about the former Indiana governor, and what policies will he push from his place on the winning ticket?

Immigration

Vice-president-elect Pence. Photo: Reuters
Vice-president-elect Pence. Photo: Reuters

Mike Pence shares most of Donald Trump’s stances on immigration, favouring deportations for illegal immigrants and remaining solid on the issue of building a wall on the Mexican border. He has also opposed the acceptance of Syrian refugees, attempting as governor to prevent any being resettled in Indiana.

In the Vice-Presidential debate against Senator Tim Kaine, he spoke against Sanctuary cities, where immigrants cannot be asked about their status by law enforcement.

Pence disagrees with Trump on his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US: in 2015, before he was on the ticket, he called the proposal “offensive and unconstitutional”. This may be one part of Trump’s platform that Pence will urge him to row back on.

Abortion

Mike Pence is staunchly pro-life and will doubtless use his position to advance that cause. As governor, he signed a number of regulations restricting abortion into law; it also required that any foetal tissue be buried or cremated. The law was struck down by a federal judge this year.

Read more: Donald Trump puts VP-elect Mike Pence in charge of his transition team

Vice President-elect Mike Pence speaks as he wife, Karen, and daughter, Charlotte, stand next to him during a public rally Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Vice President-elect Mike Pence speaks as he wife, Karen, and daughter, Charlotte, stand next to him during a public rally Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

He has also supported the defunding of Planned Parenthood and has said that he hopes Roe V Wade, which guarantees a woman access to abortion, will be “consigned to the ash heap of history”.

In the Vice-Presidential debate, however, he stated in no uncertain terms that he and Donald Trump would “never” support punishments for women who access abortion, even if they do manage to ban it. He wants an abortion ban, but favours placing with responsibility with doctors and not women.

LGBTQ issues

Much of the controversy surrounding Mike Pence comes his record on LGBTQ issues. His most prominent action this issue was to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which opponents claim is targeted anti-LGBTQ discrimination, into law. He was also at the centre of the fight against same-sex marriage in Indiana.

(From L to R) Melania Trump, US President-elect Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President-elect Mike Pence meet at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on November 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMMNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
(From L to R) Melania Trump, US President-elect Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President-elect Mike Pence meet at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on November 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMMNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

As a congressman, Pence opposed the federal funding for HIV and AIDS treatment unless the government also funded programmes discouraging same-sex relationships and, more recently, opposed the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Read more: Nine times Donald Trump has already betrayed the US voters who put their faith in him

During Governor Pence’s re-election campaign, he was seen to distance himself from these stances, with his deputy campaign manager Marc Lotter saying he was choosing not to “focus” on social issues. It is unclear at this point whether he will use his new position to advance anti-LGBTQ positions or focus on his other policy interests.

Foreign policy

Pence largely agrees with Trump’s stances on foreign policy: increase military spending, renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal and use military force abroad. In the Vice-Presidential debate, he proposed the deployment of military shields to Eastern Europe and supported the military targeting of the Assad regime in Syria if the bombing of civilians does not cease.

Mike Pence is pro-free trade, having previously expressed support for trade deals such as TPP which Trump has staunchly opposed. But Pence has kept generally quiet about these deals since coming onto the ticket, indicating that free trade will not be a red-line issue for him.

The economy

As governor of Indiana, Mike Pence favoured low taxes and low spending, and will likely do the same as Donald Trump’s right hand.

In congress, he proposed a bill that would cap federal spending, which did not pass.  Pence believes that low spending and low taxes allow the economy to flourish and that jobs should come from the growth of business, not from the growth of government spending.

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